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Gates FX1/Z1U Review


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#1 CamDiver

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 01:44 AM

Hi Guys,
My recent review of the Gates housing for the FX1 / Z1U is now available. Go to the Wetpixel main page where you can then download the .pdf file (1MB). Its 14 pages long and is a reflection on my initial[b] experiences with the unit. There will be many more tests and evaluations as times go on for other aspects of the system, macro filming, working with lighting and considerations for doing so, trials for retrofitting an Expodisc etc.

Please remember that I bought the housing second hand so the slight adjustments I made to the housing was possibly just an isolated incident where that particular field repair was required. I've been so happy with the Gates support in all matters and also for the help offered and given by Steve Douglas, Nick Martorano and the whole Gates team.

I hope you enjoy the review and I look forward to any questions or points of discussion any of you may have on the unit.

Regards,
Mark.

The Sharks of the Forgotten Islands

- A Natural History Documentary -


#2 wagsy

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 03:20 AM

Yeh Mark..will go and download....well done....
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#3 CamDiver

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 03:26 PM

Yeh Mark..will go and download....well done....


No worries Wags,
I understand you closed your uploader page which is why I never asked you to host this there. Mike is disabled at 1.7Kbps so I went through Eric. We'd been chatting for quite some time about getting this done so thats why I went this way.

Hope you enjoy the initial review. More to come as time goes on.

Cheers,
Mark

The Sharks of the Forgotten Islands

- A Natural History Documentary -


#4 Steve Douglas

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 04:54 PM

Hey Mark,
This is an excellent and completely comprehensive review in all ways. Well done and glad I could have been of some small help in its procurement. Since I write so many reviews, I am more often than not, restricted by the number of words and graphics I may include in an article. This is the type of review I wish I had the luxury of publishing, you gave us the whole nine yards and it is superb.
Steve B)

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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.


#5 nickdiver

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 06:41 PM

Hello everybody. Glad I finally joined this great forum!
I've always been impressed with the amount of knowledge that goes around here, so kudos to all contributors.

Having said that, well done Mark!
Great review! Thorough, to the point, and the pix are very helpful. Steve said it all already.

Any problems with the top monitor, other than the not-so-perfect brightness/contrast you mentioned in your review? As you know, when I worked with that same Gates housing and the FX1 last year here in SB, we had a problem mounting the monitor on the cam. Apparently the monitor base that slides into the track kept getting a bit stuck, and the plastic screw that we had seemed a bit flimsy. Hope Gates has replaced the one on current housings with a sturdier one. Or, you may wanna have a spare screw handy...

Also, thanks for including me in your credits for the review, glad I was able to assist. Now you just need to take that puppy with you on every dive... Of course, I do miss Palau, it was great working with you there.

Let us know how the Expodisc thing works out, I am potentially interested in getting one for my current rig, and perhaps one for the new FX7?

Last, do not hesitate to contact me if you need upload space for your next review, I've got several gigs on my server, so that should work. Particularly if you've got videoclips taken with your new cam (perhaps a few "before" and "after" Expodisc shots, or with different lenses, etc?).

Nick
Nick Martorano - Ocean Wonders Underwater Video Productions
L&M Bluefin HD for Sony Z1U, with L&M Standard and WA lens; L&M Sunray Pro HID lighs; backup rig: L&M Bluefin 900 for Sony PD100 and L&M Standard, WA, Macro lenses; MacroMate Super Macro lens
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#6 CamDiver

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 06:52 PM

Hey Mark,
This is an excellent and completely comprehensive review in all ways. Well done and glad I could have been of some small help in its procurement. Since I write so many reviews, I am more often than not, restricted by the number of words and graphics I may include in an article. This is the type of review I wish I had the luxury of publishing, you gave us the whole nine yards and it is superb.
Steve B)


Hi Steve,
Thanks for the kind words. It took almost 2 weeks to get this done around my work schedule so I did have that luxury of time. I wish I could have also taken the chance to include other aspects of the workflow with this system for other filming considerations but that would have just taken too long. Further reviews etc will be forthcoming as and when both time and satisfactory testing has been done.

Cheers again,
Mark.

The Sharks of the Forgotten Islands

- A Natural History Documentary -


#7 Nick Hope

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 09:33 PM

Thanks very much for the review Mark.

Having used the Gates VX2K housing for 3 years I've got a couple of maintenance tips.

Firstly give the zinc anode (cathode?) on the bottom a really good tighten now and again to get good connection to the aluminium body. If you don't do this the connection might not be good and you might get white powdery corrosion around the stainless steel latches.

Secondly, before every liveaboard trip I grease the control shafts inside and out the housing and pull/twist them in and out so that the silicone grease reaches the hidden o-ring. Keeps things smooth and without dribbles. I grease the port o-rings at the same time.

Just one minor design point... I wish Gates would put the main orange O-ring on the "fixed" half of their housings. Mine is always getting dislodged as I'm closing the housing.

While we're on the subject of Gates, look how my VX2K housing ended up... The handle gives better one-handed stability in a ripping current and the extended/notched control levers give better fingertip control. It ain't pretty but it works. Who needs HDV when u can have pieces of chopping board and door latches stuck to your SD housing instead :blink:

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#8 shawnh

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 09:41 PM

Mark,
Impressive view and really glad you are so happy with your purchase. As all of us fx1/z1 users know, it takes some time to get used to these beasts underwater. YOu had to one up us and add a monster lens. Way to go.
Shawn
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#9 CamDiver

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 12:32 AM

Mark,
Impressive view and really glad you are so happy with your purchase. As all of us fx1/z1 users know, it takes some time to get used to these beasts underwater. YOu had to one up us and add a monster lens. Way to go.
Shawn


Yeah Shawn, had to get the 120 for Palau. Its a serious compliment to a great rig. Just a matter of time in the water to get the best from it.

Nick M. How could I forget your help mate, thanks for all. I'll keep you all posted with regards to trials for the Expodisc. The only issue I get with the monitor is the reluctance of the camera to send the vital camera setting information to it. I see this more as a cam issue rather than a monitor issue. I just use it for reference as mentioned due to the lacking of image quality. I've had no problems thus far with keeping the monitor screwed in place and at times have to use a towel to gain a better grip on the keeper screws when cleaning and drying the monitor post diving.

Nick H. Looks like a water rat but effective I'm sure. I have already been in rip currents with the new rig and whilst it is a bit of a beast to hold on to its nothing uncomfortably difficult. I just have to give up on swimming around in those currents as I could with the older smaller Sealux rig. Now I can concentrate more on the sharks buzzing me whilst hooked in which is not a bad thing. People wanna see sharks more than themselves anyway. Them with the sharks would be beter so I choose very carefully my location in the hooking in formation before actually deploying the reef hook (I am very careful where I use the reef hook to answer you earlier point). Thanks also for the added points, all valid and noted, thanks.

Regards to all,
Mark.

The Sharks of the Forgotten Islands

- A Natural History Documentary -


#10 nickdiver

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 03:17 PM

Nick M. ... The only issue I get with the monitor is the reluctance of the camera to send the vital camera setting information to it. I see this more as a cam issue rather than a monitor issue. I just use it for reference as mentioned due to the lacking of image quality...
Mark.


Mark. I'm sure you've come across this part of the Gates housing's manual on how to set up the cam's video out signal, but in the very unlikely event that your manual did not contain that info, here's an excerpt form the online version of the manual, found on the Gates site. See picture below (yellow highlight is mine).
It looks like you need to press the RESET button found somewhere on your cam, and then try again.
Like I said, I'm sure you've tried this aready, but you never know.
Alternatively, have you tried to contact Gates re: this problem? It has to work. I remember last year when we were using the same setup (well, with a FX1) here in SB, we were able to see all the info in the top monitor.
My 5 cents.

NickFZ1_monitor.jpg
Nick Martorano - Ocean Wonders Underwater Video Productions
L&M Bluefin HD for Sony Z1U, with L&M Standard and WA lens; L&M Sunray Pro HID lighs; backup rig: L&M Bluefin 900 for Sony PD100 and L&M Standard, WA, Macro lenses; MacroMate Super Macro lens
http://www.oceanwonders.org

#11 CamDiver

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 07:58 PM

Hi Nick,
Every time I get a spare ten minutes or so I go through the whole set up proceedure as per the instructions for the monitor. Thus far no joy. John from Gates mentioned that this is a well known glitch with the camera. I have no reason to doubt it. I do get a momentary flash of the info on the monitor every time I power up / down but thats all I get, maybe a split second where the info is shown on the monitor screen.

I'm using the monitor mainly for reference though so no big one. The field of view through the viewfinder is greater than my old Sealux unit so I have no problems using the camera viewfinder for setting changes etc.

Mark.

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- A Natural History Documentary -


#12 Steve Douglas

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 10:15 AM

Mark, it makes no sense to me that some get info on the monitor and some do not. If it is the cams doing, then it should be fixed or replaced. Granted, for you, that means shipping it a long distance and much time lost in using it. However, it seems to me that you should be getting all you paid for. I do look forward to a high rez monitor tho.
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.


#13 CamDiver

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 04:51 PM

You hit the nail on the head Steve, logistics and distance. We are about to get into the busy season here and this is one season I don't want to miss the start of by not having the HDV equipment in the water and ready. My move to HD(V) is not over with this being basically a stop gap move until other plans can be implemented. I just wanted to be in the running seeing as most people are now looking for HDV as either a filming or stock option. The Monitor / Cam glitch will have to be accepted at the moment but like I said its not that big a deal for me. If I were in a location where I could get overnight shipping to repair, replace the camera then no worries but sat out here on these mushroom isles I'm a bit too isolated to even think about the delays that would be required to rectify this issue.

Cheers mate,
Mark.

The Sharks of the Forgotten Islands

- A Natural History Documentary -


#14 Jules (Helioxfilm)

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 05:19 AM

Dear Mark,

regarding the external monitor issue: I met the same phenomenon with my (former) Amphibico external monitor. The solution for me was the following: you have to deselect the Markers in the camcorders menu. No center, no 4:3 sign, no safety area sign. If you do this you will see the other important infos on the external monitor. Enjoy:-)

regards,
Jules

#15 CamDiver

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 02:33 AM

Jules,
You're a star my man. Thanks a lot for the tip. I was starting to get used to squinting through the eyepiece as I have done for the past 9 years or so. The tip works a treat and I'm thinking of just putting a plastic film with the safety zones and center markings over the montior screen. They won't be exact but will help with that all important framing of wildlife.

Thanks for sharing.
Mark.

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- A Natural History Documentary -


#16 Jules (Helioxfilm)

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 05:49 AM

Yes,

I was in the same shoes like you. I bought that expensive monitor, but finally I had to use the small eyepiece. After my first Red Sea trip I went back to the shop (www.nautica.at), and ask Harald, the owner, to find a solution. After the three hours trying, we got this solution.... I was happy and angry at the same time B)